Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Conversation with Crime Novelist C. Hoyt Caldwell

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with C. Hoyt Caldwell

We are delighted to welcome author C. Hoyt Caldwell to Omnimystery News today.

C. Hoyt's new crime thriller, the first in a series, is Savage Reckoning (Alibi; October 2016 ebook format) and we recently had the opportunity to catch up with him to talk a little more about it.

— ♦ —

Omnimystery News: Introduce us to your new series character.

C. Hoyt Caldwell
Photo provided courtesy of
C. Hoyt Caldwell

C. Hoyt Caldwell: The main protagonist in my Backwoods Justice series is Deputy Dani Savage with the Baptist Flats Sheriff's Department. Essentially, she is a woman trying to make it in a man's world. Baptist Flats is a small community situated at the base of a mountain range in Tennessee. It's as conservative as one would expect in that part of the world. Dani is an outsider even though her family is native to the area. Her uncle is even sheriff. Her struggle to keep the law in a community that is hardwired by tradition and religious beliefs to diminish her role in society due to her gender is fertile ground in which to grow plenty of conflict. Add to that the stress of fighting crime, it gives me more than enough layers to dive deep into character development.

In addition to Dani, there is a cast of colorful characters based on the Southern archetypes I grew up with in small town Tennessee. For me, it's a chance to explore a culture that is as rich and contradictory as any culture in America.

OMN: As a male author, how did you go about finding the right voice for her?

CHC: I have always written strong female characters. In many ways, they are stronger than their male counterparts. It may have something do with being the youngest and only male sibling in a family of four children. It's not hard to see how writing strong female characters is not that much of a stretch for me. I don't want to be too simplistic, but in the end, when I write any character, I focus on their insecurities and flaws. It allows me to create an arch that is essentially universal. True, the source of these insecurities may be gender-specific, but self-doubt is something both genders have to deal with. We all go through emotional battles that are similar in structure. I try not to think about being a male writer creating female characters. As long as I stay true to the story I'm writing, my gender shouldn't be an issue.

OMN: Into which genre would you place this book?

CHC: Savage Reckoning is a hard-boiled mystery with a distinctive Southern flair. My publisher, Alibi, has compared it to Elmore Leonard's "Justified" series, and I would say that's a fair comparison, although I would not dare compare myself to Mr. Leonard beyond our affinity for crime stories in a deeply Southern setting. I don't mind the labeling because I understand the business end of publishing. You have to reach the right demographic to sell books, and genre-based labels help you find the readers who are the best fit for your story.

OMN: Tell us a little more about the setting for the series.

CHC: Baptist Flats County is purely fictional, as are the surrounding communities in the area. I'm purposely ambiguous about the exact location, but in my mind, it is culturally similar to the Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee. I spent my formative years not far from the region, and I experienced small town Southern living firsthand, so I am intimately familiar with the types of traditions that shape the social and political attitudes. For me, the setting provides both fodder and inspiration.

OMN: Why did you choose to use a pseudonym for this series?

CHC: Under my real name, R.W. Ridley, I've published a number of Young Adult dystopian novels, and I didn't want readers familiar with my work to be thrown by this new voice in my head that I've decided to serve. Caldwell is an homage to Erskine Caldwell, the most under-appreciated Southern writer of the 20th Century, in my opinion. He was bold and unflinching, and his books caused a lot of consternation amongst the ultra-conservative elite, particularly in the '30s and '40s. Many of his books were considered vulgar, and he constantly faced criticism for his almost profane portrait of poor white Southerners. His response was to never waver. Whatever you think of him or his writing, you have to appreciate his commitment to his art.

OMN: What's next for you?

CHC: Next is the follow up to Savage Reckoning. It is titled Savage Rising, and I'm currently going through the sometimes maddening process of rewrites. In Savage Reckoning, Dani takes on human trafficking, and in Savage Rising, she takes on a powerful Southern militia bent on starting the second Civil War.

— ♦ —

C. Hoyt Caldwell is a writer simultaneously proud of and puzzled by his Southern roots. He's not smart enough to be subtle so his work tends to be tasteless and gritty. He's not out to offend anyone, but he's also not out to win anyone over either.

For more information about the author, please visit his website at PearlOfJustice.com and his author page on Goodreads, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

— ♦ —

Savage Reckoning by C. Hoyt Caldwell

Savage Reckoning by C. Hoyt Caldwell

A Dani Savage Mystery

Publisher: Alibi

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)iTunes iBook FormatKobo eBook Format

Deputy Dani Savage would like nothing better than to shoot the wife beaters, carjackers, drug dealers, and all the rest of the low-life good ol' boys that make policing Baptist Flats, Tennessee, near impossible. Instead, she grits her teeth and serves the God-fearing townsfolk without complaint. The "little deputy," as she's known, is often overlooked and ridiculed for being a small-statured woman in a big man's world. But while investigating a cold case involving a missing teen, Dani stumbles onto some disturbing facts that cannot be ignored.

Soon Dani realizes that this case goes back decades. There's a history of young women being stolen from the Tennessee hills, and a legacy of corrupt cops looking the other way. Dani's investigation leads her to the "closeout kings," a pair of hired killers with a tale to tell — a tale of a missing girl and a crime worse than murder. Somehow these two deranged hit men are Dani's last, best allies. They know that it's time for payback — and in the backwoods, justice takes only one form.

Savage Reckoning by C. Hoyt Caldwell


Post a Comment

Omnimystery Blog Archive

Total Pageviews (last 30 days)

Omnimystery News
Original Content Copyright © 2022 — Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites — All Rights Reserved
Guest Post Content (if present) Copyright © 2022 — Contributing Author — All Rights Reserved